I was reading recently in Matthew 20 about the land owner who hired all the day laborers. As I read, I felt the familiar chaffing in response to the “unfairness” of the last workers receiving the same as the those who’d toiled all that livelong day in the vineyard.
It has always bothered me that those who had barely broken a sweat received the exact same wage from the landowner as those who had sweat and labored from sunup to sundown in this parable. And then it hit me –
Have I lived my entire adult life as if my eternal abode was earned with good old fashioned sweat equity?
I’ve been pondering this for weeks now.
On the one hand, I do not believe sweat equity has a place in God’s House. I believe the moment we begin to think that any thing we can do will earn God’s favor in any way, we have missed the point of grace. And God is ALL ABOUT GRACE!
On the other hand, the chaffing I receive every single time I read that parable is undeniable proof that some part of me clings to the idea that I can earn God’s grace. That I can behave my way into Heaven. That I can do enough good works to change God’s mind about my sin. And I can’t.
No one can. And that’s good news!
The saint that’s been raised in the church (ie. me) is offered the same grace as the death row inmate walking to his execution (ie “real sinners”).
That is what I’m beginning to truly wrap my mind around as I read the Word this year – G R A C E.
How about you?
I’m embracing feedback this year. Please leave yours in the comments – the good, the bad, the indifferent. I’d love to hear from you.
I wonder how often I blunder God’s plans and He graciously intervenes. I imagine its way more than I would think – and I think it would be a lot.
I’m “feeling” Abraham this morning (Genesis 20). Maybe a little too easily. Abraham got off on a technicality. Technically speaking, Sarah was Abraham’s sister. They had the same father, but different mothers (Gen. 20:12). He didn’t lie. He technically told the truth. He just didn’t tell the truth in it’s entirety.
And because he skirted the whole truth, it almost cost someone else their life. Wait, not just someone, but a LOT of someones. That’s because…
Sin always comes at a price.
Abraham spoke a half-truth hastily out of fear (Gen. 20:11) and the consequences of that sin would have cost others the ultimate price, except…
God is a God of Grace.
On the other side of the equation was Abimelech and his people. We’re not told much about them other than Abraham didn’t see a fear of God in his land. In today’s culture, people are quick to point out God’s justice (or His perceived injustice) when sin comes to collect. I fall prey to that head-scratching theology sometimes myself. But here, in the first book of the Bible, only 20 chapters in, we see God protecting – not just His children (Abraham, Sarah), but those caught in the crosshairs of His children’s sin (Abimelech, his people).
Some Points to Ponder
What role does the nature of “technicalities” play in our own lives when it comes to speaking the truth (the whole truth)? Do you see any possible consequences (to ourselves? to others?) when we let ourselves off on technicalities?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’m embracing feedback in 2018, so please leave yours in the comments – the good, the bad, the indifferent.
Charlotte Bronte penned this inspiring line in my all-time favorite novel, Jane Eyre. I think about this quote often. I aspire for this quote to be fleshed out in my life like it was in Jane’s. The truth of the matter is that this is a constant internal struggle for me. My heart tends to hold on to the hurts inflicted on me, either intentionally or unintentionally, from others. I quickly cry out against others when they are too harsh, too judgmental, or too hypocritical.
When I am the offender, however, I just as quickly excuse my own wrong behavior by saying, “God isn’t finished with me yet.” The inference is that I am a work in progress; I deserve forgiveness because I’m still learning.
I think that tendency is what God had in mind when He penned (through Paul) –
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ forgave you. -Ephesians 4:32
Just as God through Christ forgave you. The times in which my life has most successfully mirrored Jane Eyre’s words have been those times in which I have remembered that my offender, too, is a work in progress. God isn’t finished with them yet, either. And by offering the same grace that I expect, I am learning how to forgive, just as God through Christ forgave me.
PONDER: Is there someone in your life against whom you are nursing animosity? Are you mentally keeping a register of the wrongs committed against you? Let’s wipe the slate clean today and choose to walk with them in forgiveness, just as God through Christ forgave you.
Forgiving One Another is one of thirty devotionals I’ve written as part of a friend’s devotional project. You can read more short devotionals like this by clicking here or the Devotionals tab at the top of this page.